Tweaking the wackos, part II

Tweaking the wackos refers. “James Pagett” wrote The Wonderful World of Wikipedia at WUWT complaining about the [[Soon-Baliunas controversy]] page. But despite the author knowing enough about wikipedia to have gotten himself topic-banned by arbcomm (which the post, oddly, doesn’t have room to mention) the article does a very poor job of explaining how wikipedia works. Which isn’t too surprising, as no-one outside does.

But because the post is at WUWT, and is about climate, and wikipedia, it doesn’t take look for the wackos to start ranting about me, even though I don’t feature in this story at all. Since I’d been invoked, I felt obliged to turn up (there, and in following comments). However, there is a disappointing lack of desire to learn about wikipedia, or indeed to make any attempt to back up assertions.

As far as can be told, the post didn’t lead to an invasion of septics; about the biggest consequence (apart from the correction at S+B) was someone insisting that “climate” must go in as an example of chaos [1]. But the impression, from the comment thread, is that the Watties don’t understand wiki, and they fear it, and they aren’t even going to try touching it. Which is by and large all for the good.


* Comparison of Wikipedia and other encyclopedias for accuracy, breadth, and depth in historical articles (no, I haven’t read it, the thing is behind a paywall, how ironic.

12 thoughts on “Tweaking the wackos, part II”

  1. “The chief reason we climate skeptics need our own wiki”

    Thank you for referencing Conservapedia so I didn’t have to.


  2. Dear William,

    Who is James Padgett in Wikipedia and has he been banned in Wikipedia or hasn’t he? I saw your comment at Jimmy Wales’ home page making the same claim about Mr. Pacgett, although it was quickly redacted by another editor who said you had your facts wrong.

    [Errm, you’re not doing very well. You fail basic reading comprehension, basic reading, and failure to read what has been put in front of your nose -W]

    And curiously, despite making a claim of hypocrisy against Mr. Padgett for not mentioning his alleged banning, the present post likewise doesn’t seem to mention that you were top of the list of editors banned, presumably at the same time as Mr. Padgett (assuming you are right), when ArbComm rather arbitrarily banned around 15+ editors without too much investigation into how deserving individual editors were of that remedy. My impression at the time was that most of the residue were banned in order to justify your own banning and to forestall community anger regarding the same.

    [Then you’re wrong. If you read the WUWT post my own banning is clear enough – unlike JP, who is still hiding. As for your “impression” – you’re wrong. And you seem to have failed to notice that I was the first unbanned, too, whilst all the septic riff-raff remain blocked. I don’t think we’ll be likely to see anyone asking for their unbanning, on the grounds that they made valuable contributions -W]

    The name James Padgett doesn’t ring a bell, so may I inquire about your evidence that he is a banned editor?

    [No, you may not, but anyone with a minimal amount of nous will be able to work it out -W]

    Meanwhile, as Jimmy Wales himself pointed out, Dave Souza and others evidently gamed Wikipedia’s inappropriate “verifiability, not truth” principle in order to include an almost certainly false allegation about a living scientist – a situation in Wikipedia I am only too familiar with. So why bring it up here? The released Climategate emails prove beyond doubt that the allegation against Chris de Freitas is false, correct?

    Alex Harvey

    [You’re still off the rails. VNT is a policy that the likes of you have abused often enough. That DeF deliberately sought out skeptic papers – of poor quality – in order to push his own views is clear. The system-gaming going on is from the like of you, who don’t want that kind of information published.

    Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003 for example -W]


  3. I once received a letter from Britannica thanking mne for pointing out an error. More than bloody wikipedia has ever sent me. Grr.


    Not that I’ve edited wiki as I don’t know how to although I have left information there for others to add.

    [Ah well if you’ve never edited you can’t expect any thanks. Mind you, I’ve edited and all I get is… -W]

    And then there was the error that ScS was used to germinate seeds. Went through mulitple editions of multiple encyclopedias that did. There had been a typo for SeS at some point and as everyone was simply copying out the information from the previous/other encyclopedias it didn’t get changed.

    [This is why you need a sprinkling of experts to edit these things. it doesn’t need many. But it does help if they get listened too, instead of (as happens all too often on wiki) the wackos saying “oh but the sources say ScS, so it must stay. Admittedly that mostly happens on controversial articles when the wackos are really trying to pollute the articles -W]


  4. “This is why you need a sprinkling of experts to edit these things.”

    Indeed. Columbia for years (and thus wiki etc) said ScN was used to make crucibles for gallium production. SiN yes, another scribe’s mistake along the way.

    [See? We need you. Come and join us -W]


  5. re: 3
    Yes, and actually, as revealed in the emails, the situation with deFreitas at Climate Research was actually worse than they thought. Of the 14 papers from the “pals” that came through de Freitas, 7 included “king of the pals” Pat Michaels, but the problem was pervasive.

    I still don’t know who reviewed what and what they said, but with enough pals, it was trivially easy to guarantee a majority of positive reviews. The early CR setup was eminently gameable, and doing the detailed analysis showed that it was gamed, even more than the scientists knew.


  6. Somewhat off topic, but anyone who knows about Fall Winter Spring and Summer can’t possible think climate is chaotic. Or rather they can if they are dumb enough. The hoot about that WUWT thread is the same clowns who cheer Pielke, Scarfetta and Singer sign on to the chaotic climate nonsense.


  7. Amusing that the Graun, when asked, issued a correction:
    They go as far as saying “In fact none had recommended rejection”, which seems to go beyond the evidence but ties in well with what John says above.

    Another case of Fred Pearce shooting himself in the foot: why did he tell WUWT and then send an email to Bishop Hill (a bump in Fife featuring a radio mast) rather than simply issuing a correction through the Graun?

    What’s perhaps more interesting is that Gavin Schmidt commented at RC that “email 1719, reports that one reviewer definitely recommended rejection of S&B, and never saw the manuscript again to assess the appropriateness of the rewrite.” Dunno how to find email 1719, the EPA report discussed a 19 August 2003 email from Tom Wigley saying he had found papers that he “refereed (and soundly rejected), under De Freitas’s editorship, appear later in the journal — without me seeing any response from the authors” but that’s not the same.


  8. Self correction: Bishop Hill is a Marylin and one of the Paps of Fife, and has an attached Carlin Maggie (a witch turned to stone) but no radio mast. My error.


  9. Let me quote Jimmy Wales on this matter:

    “How long was the sentence wrong? Is the description of people defending inclusion of a blatant falsehood accurate? This looks to me like a great example of what is wrong with ‘verifiability, not truth’ – to say that an academic journal published an article despite all 4 reviewers recommending rejection is obviously an error, that isn’t how the academic review process works at all. That’s true even if a newspaper article says otherwise. And it seems in this case there were other sources that were ignored, all for the purpose of POV pushing. I should be clear on something, although I shouldn’t have to be clear on it: I have little sympathy for climate-change skeptics in the political press who seem to be not up to speed on the scientific research at all, sometimes exhibiting what I can only call willful blindness. At the same time, nothing can justify inserting falsehoods into Wikipedia under flimsy policy rationales.”

    Of course, anyone can read the talk page discussion in context and see for themselves that Jimmy Wales view is undeniably correct:

    It is true that you were not involved in this – but of course you are involved now, smiling after the fact at the way abuse has taken place in Wikipedia in just the way you like it to.

    [Ha ha. So you’re still lying: I have no involvement in this, and your “smiling after the fact” is just made up. Jimbo is wrong: VNT is part of the core, and if he doesn’t like it – I think, as I’ve said before, there is a great problem with it – he needs to actually do something about it, not just snark from the sidelines. And he is wrong (given de F’s known biases) to describe it as a blatant falsehood -W]


  10. »But the impression, from the comment thread, is that the Watties don’t understand wiki«

    If you want a hearty laugh, check out the Heartland’s climatewiki these days. They were infested by a spambot more than a month ago, and haven’t manage to get rid of it since. Here’s their user list.


    [I see what you mean! Wonderful -W]


  11. I discussed this in Pals, especially p.2.

    1) At CR, de Freitas could accept or reject anything he wanted, without review by an Editor-in-Chief, sicne there was none.

    2) de Freitas was known to have ignored strong negative reviews. Wigley wasn’t the only one, there was a t least one more I got mail from.

    3) But the point in Pals was that it was so easy for deFreitas to force a majority-favorable set of reviews any time he wished. We do not know who did the reviews, but: “From 1990 to 1996, CR published zero papers from any of the following, called pals hereafter: Sallie Baliunas, Robert Balling, John Christy, Robert Davis, (Chris de Freitas), David Douglass, Vincent Gray, Sherwood Idso, PJ Knappenberger, Ross McKitrick, Pat Michaels, Eric Posmentier, Arthur Robinson, Willie Soon, and Gerd-Rainer Weber.2 Chris de Freitas became an editor and then accepted 14 papers from the pals 1997-2003.”

    We do not know who reviewed it, but I suggest that he’d get few terribly-negative reviews from that group, and if need be, he could have sent it to Singer.

    What we know is that a lot of good climate scientists were *not* reviewers, because they would have said so if they’d rejected it and were ignored.
    Certainly, none of these reviewed it:
    Mann, M.E., Ammann, C.M., Bradley, R.S., Briffa, K.R., Crowley, T.J., Jones, P.D., Oppenheimer, M., Osborn, T.J., Overpeck, J.T., Rutherford, S., Trenberth, K.E., Wigley, T.M.L.

    4) Of course, while reviewers’ names are kept confidential, nothing stops a reviewer from saying there were one… but oddly, no one has chosen to do that.

    Anyway, the 4-reviewers thing is mostly irrelevant, which is why I didn’t even mention it.


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